Mark Gleeson

Find the best man for the job

2009-10-22 15:00
Mark Gleeson
The departure of Joel Santana has not only begun the search for a successor but has also set the chattering classes into top gear.

There is not a radio and television talk show that is not full of the bizarre views of a populace who all consider themselves experts in the game.

I have participated in a few shows over the last few days and listened to the turgid prescriptions recommended by hundreds of self-proclaimed experts. Bafana Bafana generates plenty of passion but not much logical thought from this country’s citizens.

The worrying thing is the leadership of the South African Football Association place great store in public opinion, or maybe I should say, they are afraid of it.

The increasing crescendo of calls for a local coach in recent days could well influence the decision SAFA are supposed to take on Friday.

It will not be the first time that administrators, without the conviction of their ability, allow themselves to be swayed by collective folly.

To me, it makes no matter whether the new coach is local or foreign. The only criteria should be that he is the best man for the job.

The argument being put up for a local is that he would have inside knowledge of our players and would be best placed to understand the South African “mentality”.

These are broad sweeping statements that mean nothing. Much like the claims a local coach would allow the side to play an alleged South African style.

What style is that? Aimless running around, incomplete passes, the inability to cross the ball and obligatory ball watching when defending set pieces.

There is a general delusion that South African football matches up to the best when it is on song. Wrong!

This country is years behind in the pure basics. Few of our players are able to even control a ball at first touch, most cannot read the game and their decision making, even from the best, rarely displays anything that approached the basic minimum of an international professional.

That will come in time as better coaching takes hold at youth level and the basics are instilled at the growing number of academies now operated around the country and from which the best young players are now beginning to emerge.

But for Bafana Bafana, it is mostly mental. The players selected over the last two years, bar one or two, are the best we have. There is no magical goal scorer or playmaker lurking out there who has been ignored to date.

What the national team needs is leadership and direction, which is what Santana failed to do. They need a man of gravitas, who commands respect and who can get his message across. The new coach has to have the right attitude, a positive outlook on the game and the ability to lead and inspire.

The players will respond. They are not that bad, as we saw at the Confederations Cup. But once you get into a spiral of losses, it is difficult to pull ourselves out. Santana needed to go because he didn’t have the answers, and the decision to fire him was correct. Let’s hope this Friday’s decision too is taken without the cacophony of popular hum-drum having any influence.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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